Tackling the high cost of college textbooks

There are several alternative methods to reduce college textbook expenses.

September 8, 2014 - Author: ,

With a little effort, a savvy student can find ways to reduce the cost of college textbooks. l MSU Extension
With a little effort, a savvy student can find ways to reduce the cost of college textbooks. l MSU Extension

The increasing cost of college tuition has received tremendous amounts of attention. However, tuition is not the only factor for college students that has experienced huge price increases. According to Bigfuture.collegeboard.org, the average price of textbooks and supplies is $1,200 per year for a student at a 4-year public institution. With a little effort, a savvy student can find ways to reduce this cost.

There are a variety of ways to trim the price of college textbooks:

Rent – A student can rent books from the college bookstore or from online websites such as Chegg.com or ValoreBooks.com. Renting is an ideal option for students who do not highlight or write notes in the books, and who can maintain the book’s condition.

Order Online - Amazon.com and Campusbooks.com are just two of the many websites that offer new and used books at a price that is probably cheaper than the school’s bookstore. In addition, these websites give the student an opportunity to sell their textbooks.

Borrow - Visit your college library or local community library to see if the book is available to borrow. The student may have to renew their checkout of the book for several times during the semester. There may be an inability to renew if there is a waiting list for the book. You could also borrow the book from friends who have previously taken the class and are still in possession of the book.

E-books - Digital versions of physical textbooks can often be downloaded and are available for rent or purchase. E-books can be purchased on the same websites that offer physical books. Students should make certain that the e-books are compatible with their e-readers, tablets or computers. Information or assignments can be printed from the e-books via the student’s printer.

Online/Classroom Hybrid – In this scenario, an instructor leads a face-to-face course but the entire course content and test materials are web-based. The student purchases a code to access course materials. A physical book is available for purchase, but not required. The students can print the materials, if needed. Sites such as www.CoDcourses.com work directly with instructors to offer this alternative.

Free – Some textbooks are available online for minimum or no cost. Directories such as Textbookrevolution.com allow students to search for textbooks by name and provides a link for the book, if it is found.

Before purchasing any books, students should check with their instructors to verify the correct book for the course. The instructor can also let the students know if an older version of the textbook is acceptable.

Educators at Michigan State University Extension urge students to research their options when purchasing any college materials. A little effort can net a savings of 50 – 90 percent off the cost of a new textbook.

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